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Morchella – Wikipedia

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Taxonomy and Classification of Morchella:
– Morchella species vary in shape, color, and size, leading to historical taxonomy uncertainties.
– Efforts to clarify taxonomy have been challenging, with new taxa descriptions complicating matters.
– The genus is undergoing extensive re-evaluation, with about 80 species described until the 21st century.
– Molecular tools have revived interest in the genus, leading to the proposal of new species and clarification of synonyms.
– A revision in 2014 identified 30 genealogical lineages within Morchella.

Distribution, Ecology, and Cultivation:
– Morchella species form symbiotic or endophytic relationships with trees, with different species found in various forest types.
– Some Morchella species exhibit pyrophilic behavior and thrive in recently burned forests.
– Commercial cultivation of morels is challenging, with successful fruit body cultivation reported in a cave in 1901.
– Efforts to cultivate morels at a large scale have been rarely successful, leading to reliance on wild mushroom harvest.
– Morchella cultivation is crucial for the commercial morel industry, which depends on wild harvesting.

Transcontinental Species and Biogeography:
– Some Morchella species are present in more than one continent, with reasons for cosmopolitan distribution still debated.
– Long-distance spore dispersal and climatic refugia are suggested dispersal mechanisms.
– Disjunct distribution of early diverging lineages may result from Quaternary glaciation climatic refugia.
– High continental endemism and provincialism are observed in the Holarctic region.
– Population genetics and systematics of Morchella have been studied, revealing insights into the evolution and biogeography of the genus.

Toxicity and Nutrition:
– Consumption of certain Morchella species has been linked to gastrointestinal illness, cautioning against raw morels consumption.
– Cooking neutralizes toxins in morels, but caution is advised when consuming with alcohol.
– Morels from contaminated areas like old apple orchards may contain toxic levels of lead and arsenic.
– Morels are rich in iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin D, making them a good source of essential minerals and B vitamins.
– Nutritionally, raw morels contain 31kcal per 100g, with moderate levels of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Gastronomical Value and Uses:
– Morels are prized for their flavor and used in various cuisines worldwide, with black morels often found in areas disturbed by logging or burning.
– Morels are added to dishes like soups, pasta fillings, and meat dishes, but must be cooked before consumption.
– Preservation methods for morels include freezing, drying, and soaking in salt water for long-term storage.
– Dried morels can be reconstituted and used in cooking, appreciated for their flavor by humans and even animals like grizzly bears.
– Morel hunting is a popular springtime activity, with festivals and competitions held in North America, and morels featured in popular culture and video games.

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